Patterns of associations between corals and the major clades of zooxanthellae can vary across scales ranging from individual colonies to widely separated regions. This was clearly illustrated in our study of members of the Montastraea annularis species complex in comparisons of six sites on the Mesoamerican Reef, Belize and nine sites in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, Panama. Because molecular types vary in their resistance to temperature resistant and some are found in environments characterized by high levels of irradiance and sedimentation, these Panamanian reefs may have considerable importance as reservoirs of corals better able to tolerate conditions associated with human impacts. This project was in collaboration with Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science, Smithsonian Institute and was a senior thesis project for Melissa Garren, Yale, Jonathan Edwards College Class of 2003, now Adjunct Research Professor at California State University Monterey Bay.
Publication: Garren, M., S.M. Walsh, A. Caccone, and N. Knowlton. 2006. Patterns of association between Symbiodinium and members of the Montastraea annularis species complex on spatial scales ranging from within colonies to between geographic regions. Coral Reefs, 25: 503-512